Rapala VMC posted revenues for the first nine months of the year that were down by one percent to €201.4 million as compared to the same period a year ago. On a constant-currency basis, they declined by 2 percent.
The company said the trading environment was especially challenging in the U.S., where consumers are increasingly shifting toward digital channels, placing some of the group's biggest customers in financial distress. It added that it was able to recover the lost sales in the U.S. thanks to earlier deliveries of winter fishing products, which allowed it to increase sales by 9 percent in the third quarter. The U.S. is the biggest market for the Finnish company.
Over the first nine months of the year, the group's revenues in North America improved by 5 percent to $70.8 million, with and without the effect of currency fluctuations.
In Europe, the cold and late start of the summer, coupled with tightened market conditions in certain product categories, impacted sales. They were at a lower level in the Nordic countries, affected by lower sales of hunting products in Denmark and a cold spring and late start of the summer in Finland. For the first nine months, European sales dropped by 4 percent to €42.6 million, or by 3 percent in constant currencies.
The group's knife factory, Marttiini, showed strong growth, boosted by sales of a special knife launched to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Finland. Sales in Sweden grew from last year, but were hindered by some third-party supply problems and late deliveries.
In the rest of Europe, revenues fell by 4 percent to €64 million, or by 6 percent in constant currencies, hurt by the continuing challenges in the region's biggest markets for the group, Russia and France. While the ruble strengthened, the company said this has not materialized into higher consumer demand. In France, sales were below last year's level, impacted by tightening competition and general uncertainty among consumers.
In the rest of the world, sales gained 1 percent to €24 million, but dropped by 2 percent in constant currencies, with good results in South Africa offset by reduced sales in Thailand and Australia.
Revenues generated from the company's own products remained stable at €133.5 million. Fishing tackle sales were below last year's level in North America, while sales of other group products were up from last year. Meanwhile, sales of third-party products decreased by 3 percent to €67.8 million, affected by the loss of a product category in Poland and challenging market conditions in Russia and France.
Rapala maintained its outlook for the full year, with sales expected to be around last year's level and the comparable operating profit to be clearly lower than in 2016.